Rockers BBQ promotes cultural diversity in Philly this weekend

Shinobi Ninja performs a Rockers! show at Kung Fu Necktie last summer | Photo by Geoff Hall | via
Shinobi Ninja performs a Rockers! show at Kung Fu Necktie last summer | Photo by Geoff Hall | via

Many events strive to be diverse. Few are as deeply committed to the cause as the people behind Rockers!.

A long-running monthly series in Philadelphia that promotes cultural diversity, the Rockers! shows are mix of genres, ethnicities, and even mediums. Spoken word events and workshops occur often—it’s not strictly music. The event series grew out of a desire to see more bands of color playing punk shows.

One of their biggest events is the yearly Rockers BBQ Weekend. The 4th Annual installment takes place today through Sunday, and holds true to the Rockers! promise diversity in all aspects. The celebration includes live shows, zine readings, a double-dutch contest, and – of course! – a barbeque.

This spring, we talked to founding organizer Camae Defstar, as well as some of the other Rockers! regulars. Defstar who told us she grew up loving punk music but rarely seeing anyone of color receive recognition in the scene. She started Rockers! around 2005 with her friend and bandmate Rachel Roe as a way to change that.

“We wanted our band, the Mighty Paradocs to play. We didn’t know too much about booking, so we said ‘Hey let’s book an event with bands we like and want to play with.”

Diane Foglizzo, guitarist of Trophy Wife, who also performs this weekend, commented on the impact of Rockers, noting that it challenges conventional views of musical scenes and audiences.

“Often it’s a misperception of punk as a white person’s music and not in communities of color, but that’s inaccurate. We are a part of a music genre that is diverse, and there are punk bands of color all over the world.”

Joe Jordan, former Mighty Paradocs drummer, has been a part of Rockers since the beginning. He is performing with his project, the Joe Jordon Experiment, on Saturday. He said Rockers gave him a sense of community.

“It’s like a home for a lot of us bands. I’d liken it to CBGB’s during its punk heyday. No fighting, just high energy excitement. Usually people of color. It’s all inclusive. People of colors… any color…white, black, red. It’s about unity.”

Read the whole interview here, and catch the four-day event this weekend, beginning with a kickoff tonight at Lava Space. Artists include Trophy Wife, Rebelmatic, Little Strike and Moor Mother Goddess (Defstar’s project).

Saturday afternoon includes a zine brunch at Tattooed Mom’s in South Philly, while music Saturday night at Boot & Saddle with Mighty Paradocs, Downtown Boys, Bad Canoes, Joe Jordan Experience, among several others.

Sunday is barbeque day with a basketball game and double-dutch contest at a location to be announced. It wraps up with a show featuring Throwdown Syndicate (DC), the Leaves (NC), and Damn Frank (NC), and Garnika (Philly).

For more information and details, visit the Rockers! BBQ Facebook event page.

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